Congress had previously set a deadline of July 1, 2008 for the new legislative proposal from the NHTSA. The agency had been tasked with a rewrite of the law in 2005, due to concern with the 35-year-old policy's modern relevance after a series of notorious rollover lawsuits. Bringing such lawsuits in state court is currently not restricted, though a draft proposal from the NHTSA would add that restriction. Several senators involved in the proposal think that provision should be dropped, however, reports The Detroit News. The limitation on the constitutional rights of motorists to bring suit at the state level is unprecedented, according to the senators.
The roof-strengthening portion of the bill could require the roof to support 2.5 times the vehicle's own weight, up from the current standard of 1.5 times the vehicle weight. Additionally, both sides of a vehicle's roof would be tested under the new law, whereas current testing only examines one side of a car's roof. The NHTSA has previously said that such a change would result in a reduction of 13-44 deaths and 800 injuries due to rollover accidents in the U.S. each year. Despite the increase in safety, some advocates such as Ralph Nader, think even stronger roofs, able to support up to four times the vehicle's weight, are necessary.